I have been a follower of Christ for forty-two years. For thirty-four of those years I have been self-employed. Fewer things are more offensive to unbelievers, and more undermining to the Lord’s testimony in the earth, than vocally “Christian” business people whose true God is the love of money and whose business ethics resemble more of Bernie Madoff and Martin Shkreli than Jesus Christ. Being a Christian in business is more than having a fish sticker on the bumper of your business vehicle. It is having a Jesus stamp on your heart.
Have you ever met someone who was a walking-talking Bible encyclopedia, yet unlike Christ in very pronounced ways, lacking the aroma of Christ? Many erroneously believe (based on 2 Tim 2:15) that by studying the Bible we are somehow, “approved unto God.”
In today’s climate of heightened political rancor, some believers use the cleansing of the temple gospel narrative to justify all manner of egregious and even violent behavior toward others–“After all, Jesus whipped people.”—sic. The cleansing of the temple account is one of the favorite proof texts of those who want to try to deflect the potency of Christ’s clear ethical commands to overcome evil with good and to love one’s enemies. Those who proof text this passage to justify their behavior are betraying the scriptures and the Lord they profess to serve.
Prayer and intercession ministry can have some common pitfalls to avoid. I understand that not everyone involved in prayer and intercession has issues in the areas I am about to mention. However, many do. After having had exposure for over forty years to prayer and intercession movements across the world, I believe (and have seen) that those given to intercession can be uniquely vulnerable to the following harmful beliefs and practices:
So you believe in “city-wide” Church unity?
Saying you believe in unity is like saying you believe in gravity: It is self-evident and doesn’t mean much. It is in the making of unity where the real work lies. Programmatic and event-based attempts at church unity are at best temporary relief for our nagging conscience. They rarely produce lasting results. Why? As long as leaders and churches cling to their right to these things there will never be John 17-type unity:
What are some New Covenant “updates” that need to be considered when we approach the topic of prayer and intercession? I suggest at least four. If the significance of what Christ has wrought at the cross and in His resurrection and ascension do not form the foundation of all that we do in prayer, we will end up in with some very unsound beliefs about, and bizarre practices of — prayer and intercession.
Prayer and intercession (along with praise and worship) have become a cottage industry within large segments of Evangelical and Charismatic brands of Christianity. Prayer and intercession can so easily be leveraged to create guilt in believers. On the other hand prayer and intercession can also be a platform to create an elitist class of alleged intercessory specialists. People take their sense of identity and personhood from a reputation as an alleged prophetic prayer warrior, just like many take their sense of identity from being a pastor (or any other traditional ministry expression for that matter). In this three-installment blog series, I take a look at intercession from a new creation, New Covenant perspective. What does the resurrection and ascension of Jesus do to our understanding and expression of intercessory prayer? It changes everything.
Money is one of the most controversial issues in the life of the church. Is there an alternative to the guilt, shame, coercion, and threat-of-being-cursed-based giving of an alleged Malachi tithe, or “I give when I feel the Lord tells me to” mantra? (Which typically translates into: rarely and not much, or when it is convenient, which it never is). Yes, there is. In this final installment of the Church Refugee Sanity Guide, we talk about giving as an integral part of the new covenant and of the life of Christ. It is not just our money. It is about our time and talents as well. Giving can be done cheerfully with grace, love, and liberty apart from any institutional construct.
This installment of the Church Refugee Sanity Guide deconstructs religious values regarding our children in “church.” It provides hopeful alternatives to meet the socialization and spiritual needs of our children and youth outside of traditional church constructs. Not attending a traditional church, Sunday school, or youth ministry program is not a liability. It is an opportunity.
In this blog I explain (for those interested) why as of July 2015, Stephanos Ministries ceased to be a 501-C-3 corporation with IRS pre-approval of donations. For decades we were a 501-C-3, so what follows is surely not a judgment or condemnation on anyone who currently maintains that status. For years I believed being a 501-C-3 was a benign and mutually beneficial exercise of Christian liberty. I do not judge those who maintain that conviction today. However, in the light of recent political and legal trends in the world, I thought an explanation for our conviction and action in terminating our status might be helpful. Most believers I have met are very naïve and ill-informed on the “legal” aspects of operating a “church” or “ministry.” This is my attempt to inform and educate.